Shaping the future of healthcare from an equality, diversity and human rights perspective

The role of the EDC is to help shape the future of healthcare from an equality, diversity and human rights perspective, and to improve the quality of care for all. In the first of series of blogs, co-chair of the Equality and Diversity Council (EDC), Joan Saddler provides an update from the most recent quarterly meeting and offers an insight into the latest thinking behind the programme of work.

We work through NHS England, other partner organisations and stakeholders to facilitate influence and to empower. The strength of the council lies with its members and associated organisations and representations.

The work of EDC is driven forward by three core themes with five key goals for forming successes for the next two years:

  • Theme 1 – Inclusive Workplaces – Leadership, system and culture change to create inclusive workplaces. Goals: Creating inclusive workplaces and reducing bullying
  • Theme 2 – Workforce Equality – Continuous improvements in helping to ensure services and workplaces are free from discrimination. Goals: Eliminating discriminatory practice and improving organisational performance on equality.
  • Theme 3 – Inclusive Healthcare – Equity of access to services and improved outcomes for protected groups and people with lived experience of stark inequalities. Goal: Improving access and outcomes particularly for protected and disadvantaged groups

In our last meeting, we had an engaging and interactive session with a busy agenda and it was great to see so many people attending from our member organisations.

There are two key decisions that I think are worth highlighting from the meeting, both of which will have an impact on the wider NHS. These are:

  • The effect of Brexit on the workforce
  • Experiences of disabled colleagues

Paul Deemer from NHS Employers and Ram Jassi from University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, gave an excellent verbal presentation about the impact of Brexit on NHS workforce especially colleagues from the European Union and black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, working in the health and care sector.

From my point of view, it was extremely pleasing to see strong leadership models on approaching this matter and the council acknowledged feedback from members.

I also want to thank Southampton NHS Trust, for sharing a number of their approaches on addressing some of these challenges and the support given to staff.

As well as supporting the national campaign initiated by NHS Employers on Twitter under the hashtag #LoveOurEUStaff, it is increasingly important that leaders continue to demonstrate values based leadership supporting all staff groups and this was a message that was reinforced during the meeting.

The second key topic we discussed looked at, the experiences of disabled colleagues.

Building on the successful mandating of the Workforce Race Equality Standards (WRES) in April 2015, the EDC agreed to start work on additional workforce equality standards.

The findings of a 2015, Middlesex and Bedfordshire Universities and Disability Rights UK research into the experiences of disabled people working in the NHS has urged the EDC to carry out an engagement process with a view to introducing a Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES). I am very pleased to see NHS England commit to mandating the WDES in April 2018.

Finally, to keep up to date and informed about the work of the programme, remember you can also follow us on twitter @NHS_EDC

Joan Saddler is co-chair of the Equality and Diversity Council (EDC) – sharing the role with Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England.

Joan spent five years as the National Director of Patient and Public Affairs at the Department of Health, and is now responsible for national policy and practice in public and patient involvement at the NHS Confederation.

She previously served as the Chair of Waltham Forest PCT.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


  1. KASSANDER says:

    Where are the P&P reps on the EDC, plz?
    The ones selected and elected by the P&P ourselves?
    The ones who report back to their defined constituents, and are responsible to us for the messages which we ask them to carry from the grass roots P&P?
    NOT the ones that NHS E has chosen to speak for us.
    WE own Our=NHS
    WE should chose Our=Reps


  2. Jon Ward says:

    I would like to alert Joan Sadler to the risk of a new class of health inequality: geographic. Here in West Cumbria and in the other Success Regime regions, services are being moved great distances from the people they serve. (40, 50 or more miles for many patients). This will affect outcomes and, almost by definition is a reduction in access. If there was a national border between us and our removed services, or if we spoke another language or had a different religion, the discrimination would be obvious. Instead, the defining characteristic is where we live. That difference will not stop any preventable deaths or soften the lack of compassion generated by a round trip of 100 miles to visit a sick relative – perhaps for the last time.
    Excuses of safety do not work, as risk has simply been moved outside the hospital to an overstretched ambulance service. Cost savings will be wiped out by poorer outcomes, needing more costly care.